(Tommy Culkin, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — On Nov. 10, the United States Marine Corps celebrated 247 years. Today, the Kelly Walsh High School Marine JROTC marked the occasion with a Birthday Ball.

“I think it’s important to recognize dates like this because for years and years these people sacrificed their lives for this country,” JROTC cadet Tyanna Montgomery said. “They’ve sacrificed a lot to help make sure we have our freedoms as U.S. citizens.”

In just its fifth year, the Kelly Walsh Marine JROTC program is the youngest such chapter in the country, said Major Eric Patmore, the head of the JROTC program.

“Not only are we the youngest, but we’re the only one in Wyoming,” he said.

The ball was run almost entirely by the JROTC students, who showed attendees to their tables, performed an opening ceremony and helped serve the food to those in attendance.

“It’s really a testament to their maturity that they were able to do such a wonderful job,” Patmore said. “They’re doing great, and as a teacher and instructor, it’s really, really special.”

The keynote speaker was retired first sergeant Bryan Evers. Evers spoke highly of the Marines and of the virtues the Marines instills in members.

“I look around, and I see young people performing at a high level of commitment and desire to be great,” he said. “That’s what we should all strive to do.”

The United States Marine Corps was first founded in 1775 as the Continental Marines, and was officially christened at the meeting of the Second Continental Congress. The resolution was made by the founding fathers to raise two battalions of marines with the Revolutionary War brewing.

The first combat seen by the newly-minted Continental Marines came at the Battle of Nassau in the Bahamas, where they occupied the British port of Nassau for two weeks.

After the war, the Continental Marines were briefly disbanded before reforming just a few years later as the United States Marine Corps. Since then, the Marines have played a pivotal role in every armed conflict that the U.S. has been a part of.